"Amazing Horses Do Not Just Happen," but they do come into your life unexpectedly.
As I wrote in Gryff's "bio," I’d be dishonest if I said that the first time I saw or even rode Gryff it was instant love. Actually I had quite the opposite reaction. I wasn't impressed with his looks and was appalled by his behavior, but his movement did peak my interest. It took the first year riding him to establish that I was going to win battle of the wills. I've never worked so hard to ride a horse and to this day, I am still not sure why I was initially so determined. Perhaps it was because I was tired of being told he couldn't or he wouldn't ever achieve the goals I set for him. But again, I am not sure what told me he could or would achieve those goals. I just knew and the longer our partnership lasted the more convinced I became.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't one of those horse stories where all the sudden the horse just becomes perfect. Remember, "Amazing Horses Do Not Just Happen." It was frustrating, we’d go forward two steps and back six; and this went on throughout our partnership. Patience, stubbornness and determination sustained us both.
Gryff and I have given each other so much. I could list all the competitions and ribbons, but perhaps I should just stick to the most memorable moments. Never in my life have I crossed the finish line of cross-country with my arms wrapped around my horse's neck, shouting and crying tears of joy, but I did...with this horse. I have never had an emotional reaction like that to the accomplishment of a riding goal. The only other time I've ever cried happy tears from an overflow of emotion like that was at my wedding if that gives you some perspective. With the completion of what turned out to be Gryff's first and last recognized Novice horse trial, we achieved the ultimate goal I had set so many years ago. And you know what? I still kind of can't believe we did it, but I must have believed we could do it, or I never would have made the attempt.
Then there's the little moments... somehow without realizing it, I fell for Gryff and even though I didn't own him he became so much more than a horse to me, he was a friend. "The love for a horse is just as complicated as the love for another human being… if you never love a horse, you will never understand.”
What Gryff has taught me about myself as a rider, I don't think I would ever have found with another horse. I have literally sweated, cried and bled for this horse. There has only been one other horse to touch my life in that way and still it isn't the same. I truly believe Gryff was born to be an event horse. I sometimes imagine the levels he could have gone to if Eventing had come into his life sooner. I wish my skills and resources had allowed us to move up the levels faster, but time and age catch up with us all and I suppose it wasn't meant to be. Maybe he came into my life to give me courage... the courage to take the leap and start Alex.
Someone once said life is what happens while you're busy making other plans... five years with Gryff now seems incredibly short. Maybe I spent so much time pushing toward my goals that I didn't take enough time to enjoy the ride. It's not that I didn't appreciate Gryff during our partnership or that now, all the sudden, I'm having some sort of epiphany, but sometimes it takes coming to the end of something to really gain perspective. So here's my advice... take the time to enjoy the ride on every horse, even if you don't own it, even if you're not sure it's the one, because relationships change and grow and if you don't see how that horse has touched your heart until your time together is over ...it's too late.
After his accident in the Fall, I made the decision that Gryff and I would not be competing in 2013 and that I would solely focus on Alex. After all, Gryff is now 19 and although he thinks he's five, sadly he's not. This hasn't been easy, but it's the best thing for him and that is what matters. Gryff's done everything I've ever asked of him and never asked anything in return... it's time.
All good things, have to come to an end.
Love you Gryffster :-)